Wonkette has always had a good hard-on for our crazyland politics in Arizona, but a recent post calls out that journalistic train wreck called the Arizona Daily Independent.
Wonkette wrote about the right-wing clamor from Maricopa County GOP chairman A.J. LaFaro, who has gotten a lot of attention thanks to a video of a Latino man delivering a box of completed early ballots. Of course, everything that took place was legal, even it does tend to stir fears that Mexican thugs are stuffing the ballot box.
Poor LaFaro. I just wonder if he should consider moving some place else so that he doesn't have to run into terrifying Mexicans who make life so difficult.
Finally, the right has incontrovertible evidence of voting fraud! Democrats say it’s rare, but here is the video that proves just how real and scary it is: “Liberal activist caught on video stuffing hundreds of ballots.” Or, from some of the more responsible rightwing sites who are pretending to hedge a little, “This Video Appears To Show A Guy Stuffing Hundreds Of Ballots Into A Ballot Box.”
The shitstorm broke late last week at the “Arizona Daily Independent,” which recounts the claims of A.J. LaFaro, chair of the Maricopa County Republican Party, who was observing early primary balloting at the Maricopa County Elections Department in August, just to make sure the wrong kind of people didn’t try to do any voter fraud. He’s a real patriot.
LaFaro, according to his own account of the encounter at this rightwing blog — which The Arizona Daily Independent piece copied verbatim, without a byline, just “ADI News Services,” because journalism — was protecting democracy from “behind bullet proof glass because of the violence and protesting that occurred by militant groups during the November, 2012, General Election.” We were unaware of any reports whatsoever of thuggish militants rioting throughout Arizona in 2012, but, sure, we’ll just take LaFaro’s word for it.
All of a sudden, LaFaro spotted an obviously suspicious Latino wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona t-shirt delivering votes. LaFaro “watched in amazement” as the obviously suspicious Latino “dropped a large box of hundreds of early ballots on the table and started stuffing the ballot box.”
The obviously suspicious Latino was very rude and very suspicious and when LaFaro demanded his name, he dared to say, “Go fuck yourself! I don’t have to tell you who I am.”
LaFaro, who was perfectly calm and polite the entire time, of course, while the scary Latino was screaming obscenities at him and threatening him with his being Latino and all, pointed out that one of the ballots wasn’t sealed, at which point, according to LaFaro, the suspicious vote-frauding Latino “hid behind the ballot box and table as he slipped the unsealed ballot into his brief and left.” Moments later, he returned with the ballot now sealed and put it in the ballot box. Then, as he was leaving the building, he said to LaFaro, “Go fuck yourself gringo.”
Poor LaFaro adds, in his unedited version of the story, how the scary Latino man scared him so very much:
I don’t know if that person in the video is an illegal alien, a dreamer or a citizen. What I do know is that he was a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug who has no respect for our laws. I would have followed him to the parking lot to take down his tag number, but I feared for my life.
As the Wonkette points out (listen up, AZ Daily Independent), it only took a phone call to Arizona to Citizens for a Better Arizona founder Randy Parraz to get bigger picture of what's taking place:
Yr Wonkette did some Serious Journalism and phoned Randy Parraz, president emeritus of CBA, who told us that their goal is to increase voter participation among Latino voters, especially those who might request an absentee ballot but not mail it in because they believe their vote won’t count. They’ve been doing these drives for years, and state elections officials are well aware that CBA’s activities are perfectly legal.
A.J. LaFaro knows it too. He testified before the state legislature in 2013 in favor of barring groups like CBA from helping people vote. The resulting bill, HB-2305, included a whole bunch of other beautiful restrictions on voting and petitions and nominations, but the centerpiece was the criminalization of taking another person’s absentee ballot to the polls — a tactic that had been key to recalling Russell Pearce. HB 2305 passed and was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in 2013, but in the face of an initiative drive to overturn it and widespread criticism of the law, the legislature turned around and repealed it earlier this year. LaFaro’s pretend surprise at CBA’s alleged “ballot stuffing” is all the more disingenuous, considering he fought to outlaw what was a very useful strategy for gathering enough votes to hurt his cronies.
Voting rights organizers—the One Arizona Coalition, Arizona Advocacy Network and the League of Women Voters—issued a response to the hate-stirring and viral video. What took place wasn't LaFaro just doing a volunteer gig observing primary election proceedings, but wow, harassment.
And no election was being hijacked, but I guess that depends on if you feel that Latino community efforts to increase voting is a form of hijacking the political system or it just scares the crap out of you.
Progress Now Arizona:
From Sam Wercinski, executive director of the Arizona Advocacy Network: “It is important to note that the video was taken on Monday, August 25, the day before the primary election. That is three days after election officials recommend mailing early ballots. This young volunteer from Citizens for a Better Arizona was not breaking any laws when he was confronted and harassed by a person in the elections sitting area. The young volunteer, in fact, should be applauded for helping voters get their ballots to elections officials on time rather than mail them after the deadline and arrive too late to be counted. That is what happened to thousands of voters in Maricopa County in the primary election - ballots arrived in the mail but after the election. Voters who give their early ballots to trusted workers and volunteers from respected civic engagement groups have their voices heard on Election Day, unlike the approximately 7,000 plus voters whose early ballots were not counted in the August election primarily because they arrived late. These groups should be congratulated for assisting voters and election officials in getting ballots returned, securely and on-time."
From Francisco Heredia, executive director of One Arizona: “Our coalition’s volunteers have helped tens of thousands of Arizonans to vote since 2010, many for the first time, with no credible allegations of wrongdoing. This video doesn’t change that. It portrays a volunteer delivering ballots that, if they had been mailed, would not have been counted. The unfounded allegations and scare tactics we are now hearing are inappropriate and appear designed to create media headlines to justify a renewed attempt to pass voter roadblocks like those contained in House Bill 2305.
We appreciate the work of all county recorders in administering the important work of our elections. But we ask that election officials focus their energies on preventing their own mistakes, which could cause eligible voters from casting ballots. In 2012, many voters in Pima County were forced to vote provisional ballots because election officials mistakenly left them off voting rolls at polling places. Most recently, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell admitted sending faulty ballots to at least 600 voters. In previous cycles, her employees have mailed reminders to Spanish-speaking voters with the wrong election date. The handful of documented instances of voter fraud in Arizona — mostly involving ‘snowbird’ retirees trying to vote in two states — is just a fraction of a fraction compared to the number of eligible voters impacted by these clerical errors and lack of voter education by our election officials. Scare tactics only increase the chances of eligible votes being discarded or not cast at all.”
From Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, President of the League of Women Voters of Arizona: “The League of Women Voters is committed to working for an accessible voter registration and election system that protects all voters against discrimination at the ballot box. The early balloting system in Arizona is an easy and accessible way for voters to vote.
Also, having the ability for organizations to assist voters in getting their completed early ballots to the ballot box is important to encouraging voters to vote. This is not different than any other get-out-the-vote campaign that assists voters getting to polling places on election day. Let’s not be hasty in assuming the delivery of completed ballots is voter fraud. There is a better explanation.”